OPINION: So far, it’s business as usual under Community Brands

The following is an opinion piece from Jim Gibson, Director of IT at the American Hospital Association, and a Community Brands customer. At AMS Fest (June 7-8, 2017 in Chicago) Jim will appear on a panel discussion about the M&A and investment activity in the NFP technology sector.

In an effort to stay somewhat on top of the recent Association Management System consolidation trend, I have been paying a bit more attention to some of the announcements and blog posts than I might have not otherwise. As an employee of perhaps a larger association with a long standing and heavily invested AMS system, I try to resist the “get off my lawn” mentality as I wonder what all the fuss is about the recent acquisitions that has spawned Community Brands.

What I mean by “fuss” is that I don’t feel like my day to day world has been affected. At least not yet. I am no stranger to change in organizations as I spent many years as a change management consultant. So while I understand there is change going on in the AMS market, I think it is more of a trial at the moment for the AMS vendors themselves and less so for their clients. After all there is still a lot of acquisitions, process improvements, and restructuring still going on not to mention how all the smaller vendors will compete that we must get through before we see much impact to the clients.

So where does that leave associations on the Community Brand platforms? In my opinion, in the same place as we were before. I am still worrying about keeping my AMS system upgraded properly while utilizing new features and functionality. I am still working with my team to keep integrations to our AMS running smoothly or add new ones. We still fret about data integrity, training and even more about data governance. One of our biggest concerns has always been how to get data out of our AMS system in an expeditious and user friendly manner so we can analyze member engagement and create data products for our members.

So while the AMS vendor world is changing around me, I don’t feel the impact in the near term. I would love for the things I worry about (see above) to magically be solved. One can dream can’t they? Perhaps the answer lies in shifting the center of our data universe from the AMS system to more of a data warehouse. Or perhaps new best of breed systems will emerge that can solve some of these challenges that many associations face. I eagerly await how the answer will emerge.

Peter Drucker said, “The best way to protect the future is to create it”. I for one hope the AMS vendors and their customers can create a future for our AMS systems that provide associations with easily integrated systems across multiple platforms that allow us to serve our members in the best way possible and with the ability to provide a great user experience and value added product offerings for our customers. Let’s see what happens next.

Author: Ben Martin, CAE

Chief Engagement Officer at Online Community Results, and Founder of theNIRD.org.

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